Ladies and gentlemen, skulls and boys: by the time our
Halloween block party is over tonight, one of us will be dead.
And I don’t mean dead as in dull, or dead as in zombified. I
mean dead as in gone. Dead as in expired. Killed.
You may be feeling distressed about this, knowing what you
know about Ivy Woods—the great neighborhood it is, the
sweet, loving families that live there. How could such a
tragedy happen in such a wonderful place? You may have
traveled here yourself, as a child or as a parent, lured in by the
local fame of the street and its ghoulish decorations each year.
The lights, the smoke, the gravestones, and the moaning. The
witches, cackling and handing out candy. The swarms of little
Frankensteins and cowboys and robots and ballet dancers
lugging their pillowcases and plastic pumpkin buckets filled
with sugar and junk.
But Ivy Woods isn’t perfect.
Far from it.
Look closer. Look under the makeup and the masks, look
into the windows of the perfect houses. Dig under the surface
of those freshly mowed lawns and you’ll find the worms. I’ve
looked—believe me, I’ve looked. There’s something about this
street. There are secrets. I know from watching through the
windows, from hearing the hushed conversations, from
lingering on their faces when they think everyone else has
Oh they think they are perfect. They pat themselves on the
back for throwing such good parties, for raising such fine
children, for living in such big houses.
But they are pretending.
They don masks on this one single night to dress up as
someone or something else, but in reality they live their lives
We all do.
We hate ourselves. We are too fat, or too thin. We should
work hard, be smarter. We are lonely and depressed. We are
worried about money. We are ashamed of the way that our
friends and family treat us. But we lie about it all. We hide
behind a protective façade, fragile glass figurines inside
elaborate dollhouses designed to look like perfect, safe, happy
Tonight it will all shatter.
Watch closely and you’ll begin to see what I see. There’s
trouble in the air, a cold wind blowing in from far away, and
it’s settled on Ivy Woods Drive. The secrets and the lies we tell
ourselves and others will emerge tonight like spirits of the
dead. Lines will be drawn. Sides will be taken. Someone won’t
make it out alive.
I can’t save that person, but I’ll tell the story. Turn over the
rocks, expose the worms. Pull back the masks.
Because I know their secrets, secrets that will destroy them
If they don’t destroy themselves first.
The moms were having a party. I watched from across the street, through my living room window, as I ate my dinner of chicken piccata on the couch, sipping a hefty glass of merlot.
At dusk, they arrived one by one from the houses around the cul-de-sac, the glow of their phones like fireflies in the dying light. Dressed stylish but casual, ponytails and makeup, jeans and heels.
Viciously, effortlessly powerful.
The blonde mom was hosting. The one I'd noticed walking an oversize dog around the cul-de-sac, cell phone to her ear. She seemed to know everyone, always paused by one porch or another while her dog sniffed in the grass. Yes, my new neighbors were social butterflies. I observed their fluttering hugs as they converged in front of the house. My view inside was limited—a hallway beyond the screen door, painted red, like the inside of a mouth, and at the end, the corner of a giant island in the center of the kitchen where I imagined they set their Tupperware trays and booze.